Blizzard Warning Doesn’t Deter Boston’s "Fight for $15"
BOSTON/Dorchester - About two dozen activists used the holiday of love to show support for Boston’s low-wage workers and get a message out about fair pay last weekend.
They braved the cold ahead of yet another blizzard to hold a Valentine’s Day action at the South Bay Center Shopping Plaza in Dorchester in support of a $15 an hour minimum wage for low wage retail workers in Massachusetts.
While a new bill has been filed in the state legislature to require big box retailers to pay their workers $15 an hour by 2018, Jeff Hall, SEIU Local 1199 communications director, said workers and their allies are taking advantage of all of the organizing tactics they can to secure higher pay. The bill could take a long time to work its way through the legislature, and the conversation about wage inequality, Hall said, is one that needs to happen right now.
“Low-wage workers are feeling this pressure every day,” Hall said.
Activists on Saturday delivered valentines to workers at Target, Home Depot, Best Buy, Marshalls, Office Max, TJ Maxx and other South Bay stores, pledging their solidarity and thanking them for working on a busy holiday weekend. Then they gathered along Massachusetts Avenue with picket signs and brochures, bringing their attention to the customers and community members who could ally themselves with low-wage workers in this fight.
Driver after driver waved and honked, lending at least their temporary solidarity to the movement.
Nancy Chery is an activist and union leader with SEIU Local 1199 although her current place of work is not unionized. Chery is the leader of the Haitian Caucus in 1199, a member of its African American Caucus and a proud member of the NAACP. She lives in Dorchester and didn’t let the cold or impending snow keep her from South Bay Center on Saturday.
“A lot of people could not come out,” Chery said, “but this is the only way to show our voice.”
While others were working, Chery held signs and shouted in their stead.
“I had the opportunity to come out so I’m standing up for them,” Chery said.
The Wage Action Coalition, a partnership among labor, religious and community leaders, is planning monthly actions on or around the 15th of every month in 2015 with an especially large mobilization in the works for April 15.
To learn more about the Fight for $15 and the Wage Action Coalition, visit wageaction.org.